“The Church is seriously concerned about news of revenge and retaliation against Muslim citizens, refugees and asylum seekers in Sri Lanka. Many have fled from the persecution on their lands and are now being targeted. Nearly 900 cases were reported at risk of retaliation, 150 people were forced to seek shelter in police stations. Terrorism aims to fuel hatred and sow discord, while the enemies of terrorism are love and brotherhood, peace and harmony. Is there a difference between us and terrorists if we target innocent people only out of hatred for diversity?”
This was stated in an official note by the President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences
(FABC), Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Bishop of Yangon (Myanmar), speaking on the situation in Sri Lanka, following the Easter attacks. Fides News Agency reported the message on May 3, 2019.
“On behalf of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences and of the Church in Myanmar, we unequivocally condemn the horrific suicide attacks against unarmed civilians in churches and hotels on Easter Sunday, 21st April 2019, in Sri Lanka. Many were targeted while celebrating the most propitious and joyful moments of the Christian calendar: the victory of life over death in the Resurrection of Christ. Unfortunately, those who try to promote discord and hate were at work on that day when we lost so many precious lives, sowing death and destroying life,” said the statement. “Christians and Muslims in Sri Lanka are both minorities and suffered discrimination, intolerance, and persecution in the past. Turning against each other would only make the situation worse. Solidarity must prevail. The actions of a small group, which represents an extremist interpretation of a religion, should not be used to judge the entire community of adherents of that faith.”
For this reason, the Asian Bishops ask religious leaders “to promote a sense of solidarity and to rebuild trust among the communities”, and the Sri Lankan authorities “to act to stop incitement to hatred and to protect the most vulnerable. Ignoring this problem will only stimulate resentment, which is exactly the goal of ISIS”.
The message assures “prayers for physical and emotional healing and for love to prevail. Let us not allow hatred to become a foothold in our lives. Instead, let mutual love reign”. The Federation of Asian Bishops reaffirms its closeness “to all those in Asia who suffer persecution and hatred”, opposing, in the name of the Gospel, “all forms of intolerance, hatred, discrimination, violence, and injustice”.